Projections - Movie Reviews

The Green Mile

Tom Hanks has a knack for choosing roles that are complex, interesting and in some way, very uplifting.  He continues his good judgment with his portrayal of prison guard Paul Edgecomb in the adaption of Stephen King's griping novel.

Set in 1935, Paul is in charge of a Louisiana death row cell block.  The title is taken from the green tile floor which leads to the electric chair room.  And the chair sure does get a lot of use in this small block.  Plenty of grisly executions are depicted in detail never before seen.

The guards pass the time playing cards and listening to the radio.  Everything is peaceful, that is, until John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan - Armageddon) is transferred to Block E to be put to death for the rape and murder of two little girls.

Coffey is a simple-minded black giant with mystical powers.  With one touch of his huge hand, he can heal or discern whether a person is good or evil.

A wonderful cast rounds out the drama.  David Morse, Barry Pepper and Jeffrey DeMunn play guards, Michael Jeter is a sly prisoner, and Sam Rockwell is great as "Wild Bill" Warton, a psychotic killer.  But, the standout here (besides Hanks who is always superb) is Doug Hutchinson (The X-Files) who plays a sadistic guard.

Duncan is also deserving of praise.  Although, portraying a slow-witted man, his expressive face belies a hidden knowledge.  Duncan is 6' 5" and 320 pounds, and the character in the book is seven feet tall, 350 pounds, so the director, Frank Darabont  filmed him from below to make him appear larger than his already formidable size.  Director Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) also refrained from full body shots next to his co-stars.  The result is quite effective.

Long, at over three hours, Darbont who also wrote the script, follows King's work almost word for word and keeps you interested from beginning to end.  The performances are so compelling and the message so powerful, you could almost believe there is redemption at the end of The Green Mile.

It is rated R for obscenities and graphic violence.

The Green Mile
A Top Ten pick for 1999

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